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With Rafisaab it was like with every breath ‘sur’ was coming out

By Mr. Ashok Parekh – I read a nice article on our Rafisaab in today’s Mumbai Gujarati Daily ‘Mumbai Samachar’ and have made an attempt to translate as my tribute to Rafisaab on his death anniversary.

Mohd Rafi

Mohd Rafi

31st July is amidst us. It was on this day, Rafisaab left all of us for heavenly abode. Media has started to pay tributes to him. Few days back a Gujarati daily in Mumbai, “Mumbai Samachar” had published an article in which musician Dilip Dholakia has narrated his association and experiences with Rafisaab. While Dilip Dholakia has independently given in few Hindi films in name of D. Dilip, he worked as assistant with Chitragupta and Lakshmikant Pyarelal. Following is my humble attempt for English translation which might not be error free but will definitely provide us all in general and Gujarati fans in particular a new angle of knowing our beloved Rafisaab:

I composed the first Gujarati gazal by Mohammed Rafi, “Milan na dipak sau buzai gaya chhe, abhagi nayan vat koni juve chhe…” penned by Barkat Virani for the film “Mota Ghar Ni Dikri”. Albeit, earlier I had composed a solo “Mithadi Najaru Laagi” two duets with Lataji, “O Naholia Re Nen Parovi” and “Avi Rasili Chandni Vanvagado Relavati” in the film “Satyavan Savitri” released in 1963. I just cannot say that I had decided for Rafisaab’s playback. His choice was automatic. Whatever tune he was given, he used to bring cent percent perfection in it. He gave total attention to words. Gujarati was not his language even so, his attempt to bring prominence of Urdu words in Gujarati accent in such a way that it could bring the weightage in the ghazal.

I had told producers of “Satyavan Savitri” that I will have only Rafisaab and Lataji as singers. My association with Rafisaab was so old that we were co-chorus singers when Rafisaab came in Mumbai. Our relations were such that I had took him with me to sing in my community’s programme. He was singer and we were technicians. So he became star but he maintained his friendship with till the end. I worked as assistant with Chitragupta and later on with Lakshmikant Pyarelal and recorded many songs with him so his choice was obvious for “Satyavan Savitri” and “Mota Ghar Ni Dikri”. But I have done a wonderful work with Rafisaab. H.M.V. at that time told me to make Guajarati ghazal album with Rafisaab. I told them that for this Purushottam Upadhyay (another noted Gujarati singer cum music director) should be the right person. H.M.V.’s Dubey agreed with me.  Rafisaab sung “divso judai na jay chhe” after four days’ rehearsal. Rafisaab wanted to understand how Purushottam was singing. He exactly caught how Purshottam was singing and sung only after he knew it after four days. Rafisaab was giving much attention for expression. Not a single word should hurt. With Rafisaab it was like with every breath ‘sur’ was coming out. His expression with word, voice and music was complete. We completed “Milan na dipak sau buzai gaya chhe” in one day only. It was based on raag bageshari. The original written by Barkatbhai was changed for the film. I was with Purushottam when Rafisaab were singing ‘divso judaai na jay chhe‘. There is no singer like Purushottam in Gujarati. Rafisaab said, I wanted to sing the way Purushottam sings.

Mohd Rafi

Mohd Rafi

Recording with Rafisaab was such that during rehearsal if his attention was elsewhere, he would say, ‘please sing this again’. Manna Dey and Rafisaab would have sung 50 songs together. Mannada is technically much powerful. If Rafisaab was singing with him and was unhappy for something, would say Mannada, ‘please sing this’. Thereafter Rafisaab would sing even better. Mannada often told me, ‘he sings much better than me after learning from me!’. When Rafisaab signed in English, he used to take 30-45 seconds to write each letter because he was not much educated. But as a playback singer he was master. Mannada and Lataji were fast in picking up the composition. Rafisaab took longer but once he picked up, oh, just nobody could touch him. Great singers do not become great just like that. Singing became his nature which always seen on his face. When we were recording ‘milan na Deepak sau buzai gaya chhe..’ in Bombay Lab, his throw for each word and the way it was composed, both became meaningful.

My association with him was 29 years long. The songs I composed with him for Hindi films (Dilipbhai gave music independently under the name D. Dilip) were not much popular but ‘pyar ka mara hun main Julie, o Julie jaane de adayen ab jaane de‘ in 1962 film ‘private secretary’ was quite popular. But All India Radio had banned it. A duet in bagdad ki raten’, ‘zulfowalense na bhulke bhi pyar kijiye‘ by Rafisaaab and Shamshad Begum was also quite popular. I have substantial experience of Rafisaab approach in producing each song during my 16 years association with Lakshmikant Pyarelal. Even during long duration in picking up a composition, it was continually churning within him and once he picked, he picked it totally. Rafisaab and Lataji were asking before singing on whom the song was going to be picturised and after knowing they would sing exactly like the actors were singing themselves. It is different matter that we know who sung the song! They very well knew that while singing, they had to project the actors on the screen and not themselves. This way the association of each song with Rafisaab is important for its tale of birth but now ‘milan na Deepak sau buzai gaya chhe…’ (all lamps our meeting are extinguished…’).        

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20 Blog Comments to “With Rafisaab it was like with every breath ‘sur’ was coming out”

  1. Raam says:

    Anyone know where i can purchase a video of Satyavan Savitri as above? I have all the original songs in Gujarati on 78 rpm Vinyl ! 🙂 But cannot find a video of this and another classic Gujarati movie called Kalapi.. music for both films was by Dilip Dholaki..:)

  2. Rajkumar Akela says:

    My dear rafian friends !

    There is a “country ranking” for Indian musical artists named “Whopopular” and I request you all to vote for Rafi Sahab in the following link and glorify him…

    Rajkumar Akela

  3. Rajdeep says:

    RAFI SAHAB is always great in every sphere of the life of any real artist

  4. RAFI SAHAB’s songs of various flavours are always great source of inspiration to me wherever I live in this world. The very songs sometimes affected me to overcome various sorts of problems of practical life. The evergreen songs have a celestial and enchanting effect that removes one’s tension and problem easily. Sometimes during my riyaz whenever I sing some of the sentimental and sad songs of Rafi sahab it brings tears to my eyes. Having performed live once I wipped after listening a sentimental song of RAFI SAHAB
    RAJDEEP 9920848546

  5. Dear all
    here i would like to reproduce one letter by Shri Prithviraj Kapoor. you can easily read the sentiment:

    PRITHVIRAJ KAPOOR prithvi jhonpra, janki kutir, juhu, bombay-54 phone-574580

    “If Music be the food of love Play on” , Sang the bard of Avon over 400 years ago-But still even today it rings so true, so very true.

    The world has changed so much and is changing continuously every year every month every day every hour every minute every second but not so the Dame Love.

    From bullock cart to the jet and the sputnik man has changed his saddle but not so LOVE who is still riding its old old very very old the same old winged horse-the SONG. And when that song comes to you on the wings of Rafi’s voice “Yes we call him Rafi-He has no airs nor does he glory in any sort of exhibitionism, otherwise you would see him carrying everywhere with him his load full of Trophies, & Medals he has been bestowed upon by his admirers all over the world and to crown all the much coveted medal hearing the title of Padma Shree which the President of India was pleased to confer on him in the year 1967. No he has no airs about him. He is Rafi to us all his lovers and admirers. His humility and his devotion to his art are his great assests along with the rich melodious voice God has blessed him with”.

    Well-What was I saying?–Yes–the Song–when it comes to you on the wings of Rafi’s rich and melodious voice it carries you away–far away, far far away from the madding crowds’ ignoble strife to the “FAIRLY LANDS” where love and love alone holds its court–where there is no hatred, no jealousy, no mine and thine and thine and mine, hustlings and pushings and pullings, where peace reigns supreme–and bliss kisses your brow.

    I congratulate H.M.V. for doing this for us through their
    “AN EVENING WITH MOHD. RAFI.” God bless them, God bless our Rafi.”

    Prithviraj Kapoor
    July the 15th 1969

  6. G.M.Ansari says:


  7. mohmad sakir says:

    mausiki ka chaman aaj bhi sajta hai,
    suroka ka gulasan aaj bhi chehkta hai,
    lakin kuch in din main,
    sabhi ke juban pe yeh chrarcha hota hai
    woh bulbul kanha gaya,woh bulbul kanha gaya.

  8. A S MURTY says:

    Ashok Parekh sahab, thanks for presenting this english version of the article in gujarati by dilip dholakia. it was interesting and gave a first hand account of how well rafi sahab treated the lyrics and sang them to perfection. gujarati is atleast somewhat easier when compared to telugu from down south. rafi sahab has rendered about 14 songs after writing these songs in hindi and while one can make out the difference in the accent, the sweatness, the throw and the rightful punches were all too evident even in this alien language. thanks again for posting this article.

  9. tasveeren says:

    Rafi Saheb left us in 1980, it has been 29 years now, but we still try to find his songs…. Long live the master.

  10. Khalid M says:

    Tum yaad aaye bahut yaad aaye.
    Tum mujhe yun bula na paaoage.

  11. Dharmavirsinh Gohil says:

    Thanks for giving such an insight through this tribute in to the life of ‘SUR’ ke ‘BADSHAH’, Rafi saab. Really great singers do not become great just like that.

  12. Anmol Singh says:

    Thanks Ashok Parekh Ji,

    Possibly a point mentioned here that Rafi was slow in picking up the tune compared o his contemporeries can be interpreated in the different way.

    Rafi Sahab considered the most minute details of the composition prior to the delivery of final output. No wonder his “Gaayakee” was perfect to he core.

  13. On this very emotional day, I would like to quote Shankarji (of shankar-jaikishen) :

    “Rafi Miya was of course the best. There was some jaadoo in his voice that appealed to both the ganwar and the sophisticate. Some of his songs like Yeh aasoon mere dil ki zuban hai, touch people even today.

    More important, he was a great person…a sharif man. If you told him you couldn’t pay him immediately, he’d refuse to take it even later when you offered him the money.

    Sometimes, a song would make him so happy, he would refuse to take the payment for singing it. The pleasure he got out of singing them was his reimbursement. He donated to charitable causes very generously and never spoke ill of anyone. No praise is enough for Rafimiya…there can never be a man like him.

    Jab tak duniya mein sound exist karega, Rafi Sahab ko koi naheen bhool sakta

    My hearfelt tribute to this man of God.

  14. Jainul Ketwaru says:

    My brother and I,we have writed the Dutch text on the melody of “”baharo phoel barsawo”in 1973.when the great master was on tour in the Netherlands.It was a very great experience for me to sit down with him and to enjoy his natural voice during the training.In a couple of minutes he was ready to sing this song . As musician i have learned a lot of this great singing miracle of India.

  15. unknow says:

    Today is 31th and the same day we last the king of Bollywood in singing world as said by Raj Kapoor “MOHD RAFI IS THE KING WITHOUT CROWN”
    we have no word to say about Mohd Rafi jest we hope that people of world learn from him that how great human he was,

  16. Sagnik says:


  17. Hussein Sheikh says:

    Rafi Saheb, aap karodon logon ke dil mein base ho, aure hamesha rahoge.
    Long live Rafi Saheb.

  18. Anwar-ul-Haque says:

    Mr. Ashok Parekh,

    Many many thanks for translating from Gujrati and providing us the views of Gujrati musician Dilip Dholakia. It is very interesting and informative to read this article. This is the best tribute to the great king on his 29th death anniversary.

    Yes! The king remains king and nobody can replace him!!!!!!!

    Thanks and best regards.


  19. priya Sanyal says:

    Thanx for such a nice tribute!

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